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How do you prepare for meetings? Do you have certain routines you always follow? There are a number of steps that can help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Know your audience. Who are you meeting? Have you done a Google search on them?
  2. Practice makes improvement. Nobody’s perfect, but you should be comfortable enough with your material that it flows naturally and you’re not relying on notes during the meeting.
  3. Follow up. If you tell the people you meet you’ll get back to them on a particular issue, make sure you actually do it. Keeping promises goes a long way and reinforces the quality image and brand you want to project.

Recently, I have attended meetings with senior entrepreneurs and politicians. What I have learnt from attending these meetings is:

  1. You have self-respect for yourself
  2. You have respect for the person you are meeting
  3. You be mature

Mature

When doing business with senior figures whether you realise it or not you are being analysed on how respectful you are and how mature you are. No businessman or politician wants to deal with a dizzy blonde or someone who can’t articulate their point.

Instead being mature and professional is preferred. Maturity can be gained through education, life experience, or both. Given my life experiences I have matured faster. From a very young age I was surrounded by adults. I use to go with my mother to meetings campaigning for the rights for guide dog owners. Also I have encountered adversity. It takes a mature attitude to bounce back from it.

Every ‘meeting’ is an interview. Connecting, engaging and striving for a result are what you should aim for in any conversation. Last week I went toLondonto meet former UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett. I wasn’t going for a job interview yet the questions he asked me were similar to an interview. I had to convey my USP – Unique Selling Point. Yet, a balance has to be drawn in conveying a USP.

If I spend the whole time talking about me and what makes me ‘unique’ then the other side will become quickly disengaged. I felt privileged to have the meeting with Mr. David Blunkett in the Palace of Westminister. A lot of people have asked me how did I get such a meeting and it all comes back again to connectivity and showing personal leadership.

This meeting was planned but sometimes we end up in situations and in the company of people where it is unplanned. On the same day of meeting Mr. Blunkett, by pure luck, I ended up having a conversation with another interesting man. This is why it is so important for job hunters to know what their USP is and how to articulate it. You never know when luck is going to show its head and when it does you need to make yourself memorable.

I recently did a keynote speech for Network Cork. I felt privileged to be invited to speak and to be among Cork women in business. I spoke about: ‘Resilience in the face of change.’ Resilience is the personal capacity to cope with difficult events. Developing resilience helps you to:

  1. Manage negative emotions
  2. Distinguish between what is within and outside of your control
  3. Learn from past experiences
  4. Develop Self belief
  5. Increase your level of frustration tolerance
  6. Maintain a resilient outlook

For a long time I have been fascinated by individuals who not only survive great adversity but emerge from their grim experiences stronger in mind and spirit. Why did they not see themselves as: ‘victims’ whose lives would be forever blighted by their experiences?

Mindset

What was their secret? What stands out to me is the: ‘attitude’ and ‘mindset’ that a particular person takes to certain circumstances which will determine if they are resilient? The same event can lead to very different reactions from different people.

Imagine two people working for the same company and they both loose their job. They both experience initial bitterness and rejection. But then they both begin to show significant differences in dealing with this setback. The first person accepts without liking it, that this job has gone and commits himself to finding another one. He welcomes support in this endeavour from family and friends. After several attempts he secures a new job at a lower pay scale. But he is glad to be back at work. The second person finds himself still ‘stuck’ in ‘bitterness’ and holding a ‘grudge.’ He turns to drink to wallow in the ‘unfairness’ of life. His wife and children are reluctant to approach him. His attempts at finding a job are non-existent. Why didn’t both men react to the situation the same way? The answer is – Attitude.

The first man said there is no point being miserable and you just have to get on with life. The second man held a grudge. When you hold a grudge against someone or something then you end up stuck in that moment and you don’t move forward.

I have gone through a lot of adversity. So what does it take to be resilient?

  1. Connectivity – being connected to strong and supportive relationships.
  2. Energy – creating energy in your life and those around you.
  3. Engaging – extend yourself to others.
  4. Courage – draw upon your courage and resilience to rise up and face your difficulties head on.  
  5. Adaptability – being adaptable and flexible enables people to respond flexibly to unknown challenges.
  6. Passion – having passion brings energy and commitment to achieving a goal.
  7. Focus – focus on what you can control. Don’t get carried away by circumstances you cannot change.

The Olympics offered us energy, hope and motivation. I believe the Paralympics will give the globe a renewed respect for achievement, superhuman strength, wonder and most of all, inspiration.

Since their inception as a form of rehabilitation for wounded World War II veterans, the Paralympics have grown and expanded. This year’s Paralympics are the largest and most commercially successful ever. Well over 2.3 million tickets have been sold. Record numbers will go to see the athletic abilities and the human spirit of men and women who have to deal with day to day hurdles. A reason for the growth in the popularity of the games is connected with people’s changing perceptions of disability and sport.

The Paralympics may have started as a form of rehabilitation for the disabled, but it has grown to become much more.

Humanity

The outstanding achievements of paralympians from across the globe are an inspiration for all humanity especially for those not suffering from disabilities that are too quick to give up when life’s challenges seemingly get too tough to bear.

So as a job hunter what can you learn from the Paralympics?

  1. Going the extra mile – from watching these men and woman compete we can learn that they are willing to go the extra mile, and push their minds and bodies beyond what their families and doctors tell them is possible.
  2. Commitment – despite races being over in just a few minutes what we have to remember is it takes a lifetime of commitment to their sport to get to that point. Now when you add this commitment to a sport, but add the fact that someone is taking part who has no legs, is blind, is in a wheelchair, then you have something very special.
  3. Passion – some paralympians were born with their disabilities while others were in car accidents or fighting for their country in wars, and many other reasons. Each one of them had a choice to either sit there and feel sorry for themselves or put passion and drive into their lives to be better and stronger.
  4. Encourage Others – some of your family or friends might be unemployed if so encourage them. We should be willing to encourage others when they hit a challenge.
  5. Beyond Your Limits – we will see this time and time again, these athletes have a vision that takes them beyond what the eye can see. Yes they may be in a wheelchair but they have a vision to be world class. Their vision is so powerful that they make the choice to commit to rigorous training. Through vision and commitment they achieve their goal. .
  6. Strengths – there is a reason why you don’t see a paralympian competing in swimming one year and in running the next year that’s because each athlete plays to their strengths. Know your strengths and work at them.

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a big fan of self-help books. I believe that we are all responsible for our own journey. Reading personal development books will help you on your journey through life. To be successful in your career, you need to be able to influence other people. This involves developing personal power. You will want people to think positively about what you do, listen and accept your ideas. This can include influencing someone to give you a job or promotion, delivering a key project where you need their input and help or even advocating your skills and talent to other more senior people. Little can be achieved without the ability to influence others.

Recently, I came across Orlaith Carmody’s blog – a communications expert. Her take on: ‘power’ is very interesting. She describes: ‘power’ in three forms:

  1. Expert power
  2. Position power
  3. Personal power

She gives tips on what devolves: ‘personal power’ and what protects it.

Cultivated

To discover your own portfolio of power, consider the following questions.

  1. Why do people do what you want them to do?
  2. What is it about you that win people over to your ideas?
  3. When you are being successful, what is it that you do which gains cooperation from others?
  4. What connections do you have that people value?
  5. Is there something about your manner which sways people?

If you find it difficult to answer these, get the help of a friend. Finding out why other people think you are powerful or influential can be very helpful. Once you have started to pin down your answers, consider which of these you could make more use of, which you could build on and other things which you would like to add into your unique mix of power.

Power is the ability to achieve purpose. First there must be purpose and then power must be cultivated to achieve that purpose. Without power, vision cannot be realised, missions cannot be accomplished and values cannot be promoted. There are two sides of power: positive and negative.

On its own, power is neither positive nor negative but neutral. It is how power is acquired and used that makes it positive or negative. Positive power is aimed at: inspiring, influencing and leading. A person exercising positive power helps the people he/she is influencing to reach their goals. Since self-development is about touching and embracing other people’s lives, it seeks to develop positive rather than negative power. Power creates independence. Create a reputation for hard work. Word of mouth is the most effective way of marketing so get people talking about you and your work. Help others solve difficult problems and always seek ways of adding value to people’s lives. Make oneself known to people with greater power. Effective communication leads to recognition which in turn leads to influence.

Fulfil your dreams of a professional sporting career.

So the Olympics are here and everyone is feeling the fit factor. I always had respect for athletics but over the past four months my respect levels have went sky high. As many may know I took up running in April of this year to run the Dublin mini-marathon 10k (6miles) in June for: ‘Childvision’ the National Education Centre for Blind Children in Ireland. I raised €1,727 in sponsorship for them.

I admit I found running tough at the beginning. But now I really enjoy it and even though the mini-marathon is over I have kept up the running. What I have learnt is that running can be a great confidence booster in these tough economic times.

With all the talk of the Olympics it has got me thinking what does a person need to do if they want to become an athlete. What I have learnt is don’t assume you’re too old or out of shape to make your dream of becoming an athlete come true. Here are steps towards your dream:

  1. Consider your physical condition – determine what shape you are currently in. This will help you to select the best sport for you, as well as the training program you will need to follow. 
  2. Pick a sport – there are a range of sports to choose from examples are as follows: canoe/kayak, equestrian, fencing, sailing, running, swimming, football, boxing etc.
  3. Local club – once you decide which sport to pursue, you need to start developing your skills. Join a local athletic club or visit a recreation centre so you can practice and take classes. For example, when I took up running in April I joined St Finbarr’s running club in Cork City. The club is very friendly to me.
  4. National Governing Body – as well as joining a local running club I also joined the national governing body of athletics. Athletics Ireland is the national governing body for athletics in Ireland. Their primary objective is to promote and develop the sport at every level from recreational running and schools competitions through to supporting Ireland’s elite athletes in international competition.
  5. Start competing – there is always a variety of competitions and tournaments going on.  First start at local level.  The more competitions you enter the more confident and determined you will become. Also once you start winning at local level you will start to build a national rating by competing at certain competitions. Your local club will be able to tell you when and where you should be competing.
  6. Get a coach – this step should be taken at the same time as you start competing. In each local club there will be coaches. For example, in St. Finbarr’s running club Marion Lyons is my coach. Marion is very good and she has definitely assisted me in developing my skills. Marion is helping me progress and remain focused. Running requires a lot of patience and excellent running technique doesn’t develop overnight. It can take years and so it is important to be realistic. A key piece of advice that Marion has given me is that you only get out of running what you put in – so it’s not enough to attend training you have to watch your diet and be committed. The benefit of having a coach is they can help develop your skills, so you can progress to the next level of your sport.
  7. Visualise your success – a training technique used by top athletes is visualisation. Creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel. The more detail you can add to your visualisations the better.
  8. Financing – If at some point you may be ready to start training full-time, which means you will have to find a way to support yourself financially.  Elite level athletes can be supported through scholarships. You may be able to obtain corporate sponsorships through past employers. You could try contacting a sports marketing agency and get them to contact companies for you. 
  9. National Championships – such championships are a stepping stone for you to your Olympic dream. Many individual sports open their National Championships to any competitor who has achieved some minimum qualification at the local or regional level so you may have a better chance of competing than you think. 
  10. Qualify for the Olympics – each sport has a different process for qualifying for the national Olympic Team. Athletes in individual sports (such as track and field or tennis) compete for a spot on the Olympic Team through qualifying tournaments or their national rankings.
  11. Coaching job – if you take up a sport and really like it but you don’t want to become a professional athlete then you could always search for a job in that sport via coaching, personal training etc.

So if you are out of work and feeling the blues of the recession then why not take up a sport, get fit and start competing or coaching. Who knows there might be an Olympic athlete in you? But you won’t know until you get off the couch and get out there and start training. Enjoy the experience.

 

On Wednesday 20th of June I travelled with my mum to Belfast. That evening we were audience members in the Stephen Nolan Ulster BBC show. The show is normally aired on TV on Wednesday nights on BBC1 from 10.35pm until 11.25pm. It was the last show in the series until they resume in September. It is a current affairs show. It is similar to the Frontline, current affairs show in Ireland that is on RTE1.

Stephen Nolan is a presenter on radio and TV. He is extremely good at his job and the BBC is very fortunate to have him.

My mother is a huge fan of Stephen Nolan. She continuously listens to him when he is on the radio. Even in bed at night time the radio is on listening to his weekend show which he hosts in the UK.

Through my mother I have now become a fan of Stephen’s radio and TV shows. I regularly listen to him. Some people might find him controversial but that is because he deals with the topics that people don’t want to deal with. For example, the first topic on his show last Wednesday night was the topic about the right to die. The topic centred around the debate as to whether a paralysed man should have the right to die.

The paralysed man can only blink and thus is taking a court case to allow him the right to die. Assisted suicide is available in Switzerland by an organisation called DIGNITAS. It begs the question will it ever become available in Ireland or the UK?

When the topic was being discussed I asked a question from the audience – it was more of a rhetorically question – if you legislate for assisted suicide in the UK or Ireland then where do you draw the line? How loosely do you allow the legislation? The show is a fast flowing show and there are time constraints like any other TV program. Hence, I wasnt expecting to debate out the issue of whether legislation should be implemented? Moreover, how such legislattion should be drafted. As a solicitor I feel it would be difficult to legislate because the courts normally judge each case on its own merits and facts.

Other topics on the show was about fixing the mileage on a car and then selling. Another topic was about how some people didn’t get the queens jubilee tickets.

After the show my mum and I got to meet Stephen. We were so happy to meet him. He is such a nice guy and so down to earth. His production team were very friendly to my mum and I and accommodated us to whatever we needed in terms of our disability.

I wish Stephen and all his team all the best with their next series of his TV show.

Keep up the good work.

Tough economic times can make it even harder to fight an addiction which in turn can have a huge impact on your search for a job. There are real barriers to people with addiction problems getting back into the work force, some of that has to do with the perceived implications of addiction. There are a whole range of addictions across all ages, some because of forced economic situations, some due to hereditary factors, and also some due to social situations. People who lose structure in their lives, have a tougher time combating their addictions. The loss of a job or the inability to land one can make things even worse.

 

Here are some useful tips to help you deal with addiction during job hunting.

  1. Courage – It takes courage and strength to face up to any type of addiction, whether it’s an addiction to prescription drugs, substance abuse, nicotine, alcohol, gambling, self-injury, eating disorders, etc.. But no matter how bad the addiction is or how powerless you feel, there is hope and help available. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and haven’t succeeded. You don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom; you can make a change at any time. Recovery is a process, and there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. But you can overcome your addiction by learning how to cope in ways that are constructive rather than destructive to yourself and others.
  2. Acceptance – Taking responsibility for where you are right now, where you want to go, what job you would like, and the type of happiness you want with family and friends. Unless you have acceptance of your addiction and the damage caused to you and your family none of the above will happen. Acceptance does not come easy and this is why it would be important for you to attend meetings where you will find fellow addicts who have the same addictions as you. Such meetings provide a forum for open non-judgemental dialogue and fellowship.
  3. Cravings – For many individuals coping with urges is a problem.  Urges can be uncomfortable but they are not unbearable. Although during the initial days or weeks of abstinence or moderation, especially after a long period of daily addictive behaviour, you may experience many urges of strong and even increasing intensity. Recovering addicts of all types report that urges eventually peak in frequency, intensity, and duration, and then gradually, with occasional flare-ups, fade away. How long it will take for urges to peak, and how rapidly they will subside, depends on many factors, including the specific addiction, the length of the addiction, and the strength of the developing alternative lifestyle. It is normal for any addict to experience urges. What is within your control, however, is how you respond to the urge/craving.
  4. Change – Change is the foundation of successful recovery without change old habits reappear and these same old habits lead back into the addictive behaviour. Recovery is about change, all of which is based on one step at a time, one day at a time in every aspect of your life .Your approach to job hunting should therefore be Calm Assured and Positive – THE NEW YOU.
  5. Honesty – In all your dealings be honest with yourself, with your potential workplace and your family. Honesty in job hunting is critical, never  overstate your  credentials 
  6. Awareness – If you are not aware of your actions, then your personal hygiene, time keeping, language, temperament will be affected. In turn making applying for any job and attending a job interview even harder.
  7. Team player – At the interview stage if you’re seen as a solo player and not a team orientated the interviewer may not be impressed. In turn, reducing your chances of employment. The later stages of addiction have a profound affect on the individual to be part of a team. Isolation becomes common place. In turn, this leads to a breakdown of standard social skills, interest in normal daily activities which in turn can lead to depression, lack of self-esteem and confidence.
  8. Commitment – The new you deserve a new life, a new job, and a new type of happiness. With this new found strength you will be able to face the daunting challenge of job hunting. You will be able to prepare your CV. You will be able to accept objective criticism. You will be able to develop confidence in an interview situation. You will be able to ask the right questions because of the new found strength.
  9. Act Now – It is now down to you to deal with your addiction so that the prospect of job hunting can become easier for you. No doubt it will be hard at the start, you may encounter problems with maintaining motivation, coping with urges, developing a lifestyle of positive action. With practice and good coaching, and a continued focus on the benefits, you can learn the skills necessary to solve these problems, even if at times your progress is not smooth or continuous. In this way, you can move forward to new and greater pleasures and benefits in life, rather than being stuck in repetitive and harmful behaviour patterns.

 

Tips to help you get that job

Here are my tips which I believe can help you get that job.

  1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF

Throughout my life I have experienced a lot of adversity. But I don’t see adversity as an obstacle I see it as an opportunity. What drove me to becomeIreland’s first registered blind solicitor is my motto: ‘Believe in yourself ….Anything is possible.’ This motto has really helped me overcome barriers. What I have learnt from life is that we cannot expect other people to believe in us if we don’t believe in ourselves first.

  1. GCP – the Kane Ability

What has worked for me in life is the following I call it the Kane Ability:

    • Goals – Set Goals
    • Choices – Make Choices
    • People – Contact People

Goals

The one common theme that any successful person does is they write or record their goals at least two or three times a week. I believe all people have motivation but the problem is that people find it hard to stay motivated. Why do they find it hard to stay motivated? Its because they don’t write or record their goals. It is common knowledge that all successful people write down their goals at least two three times a week. They do this to keep themselves focused on what they want to achieve.

Choices

You can’t control the way you were born but you can control how you live your life. I was born visually impaired yet I choose to live my life in a positive way. No matter what situation you are in, you have a choice. No matter how bad things are, you have a choice. No matter what you think you can or cannot do, you have a choice. Now it may not be an easy choice, by any means. It may be a very difficult choice and the road you decide to take may be a tough one. It may push you way out of your comfort zone. It may mean that in the initial period your life may get even harder than it already is. But it is a choice nonetheless. A lot of times you will actually find that the choices are not as hard as you thought they were. You may just have shut off your mind from seeing those choices and possibilities because you thought you had no choice. Once you become open to the idea that you are responsible for your life and that you have choices, you will find that you are no longer stuck just because life is hard.

People

Get to know people who can help you develop your career prospects. You don’t need to be a big shot or the most outgoing person in the world to network effectively. Take it a step at a time. Begin with people you know, at work and in your social life. Keep your ears open and listen for information that could work to your advantage. Keep good records of who you meet and the conversations you’ve had – there’s no point building a network of contacts that you then forget. Also aim to stay in regular touch even when you’re not after anything specific. You don’t want to be known as the person who only ever gets in touch when they’re after a favour.

 

  1. IDENTIFY YOUR CORE STRENGTHS & COMPETENCIES

Every single one of us has a core strength which makes us competent in that area. What I have learnt from life is that people know what their core strength is but where they fall down is they don’t give examples of how they have put this core strength into action and what positive result happened. When you attend an interview it is so vital that you ‘sell’ yourself and that means ‘selling’ your core strength. What has worked for me in the past is using example to highlight my strengths.

  1. PERSISTENCE

One of the keys to being successful is persistence.  Once you have determined exactly what it is you want to accomplish, you must take massive action on a consistent, persistent basis in order to succeed. Think of it like building a muscle. You have to constantly train to build muscles and keep them strong.

So many times I was told by so many people that I would not qualify as a solicitor. At 17 years of age my career advisor teacher told me not to go on to study law because she told me law was a reading based subject and my disability was my eyes. This woman did not believe in me, did not believe in my potential, did not believe that I as a person with a disability could contribute to society. Yet, I beat the odds because I continually persisted to achieve my goal.

There is no sense in being persistent at something that you are doing incorrectly!  Sometimes you have to modify your approach along the way.  Every time you  do something you learn from it, and therefore find a better way to do it  the next time. 

  1. SELF-IMPROVEMENT

Small acts done consistently over a period of time reveal big results. Everyday we need to develop ourselves. Schedule a review. Pull out your calendar or PDA or whatever you use for schedule-keeping, and set a date three months from now to review your progress. Then set a date three months from that date, and another three months from there, then another. These reviews can help you see your progress and also will show you where you need to adjust.

  1. MINDSET

The difference between those who succeed and those who fall by the wayside is in how they view failure. Losers view failure as the end of their hopes. Winners view failure as a building block to their success. If you view your failures as the end of your chance to make something of your life, then that indeed is what they are. But if you view your failures as simply additional chances to seek even greater success, you will indeed find that is true.

 

Welcome Everyone!!

I haven’t begun with the usual: ‘Hello World – AKA my first blog!’ because that is just boring and well it’s just being the same as everyone else.

I’m a solicitor, trainee mediator, motivational speaker and strong advocate for women in business.

There are plenty of great blogs out there that deal with personal stories and life lessons.

This blog is going to be a little different, a bit more expansive so I will be talking about a range of things such as:

  • positive thinking,
  • women in business,
  • law and ADR,
  • disability,
  • bullying
  • youth.

Before you say it yes I know it’s a lot to take in. But these are the parts of my life that I am interested to talk about so there you go.

Rather than preaching I will just be telling you what works for me and what I think. You can take my opinions on board if you so wish or you don’t have to – the choice is yours.

I’d also like to get a discussion going about the topics that I write about so, feel free to add in your thoughts in the comments section and pass on this link to any people who might be interested.

I am going to aim that as a minimum I blog twice a month. If I am feeling very generous or if my mood strikes me then I will blog once a week.

Until next time folks :}

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